And the replacement slogan for Who's Your Tiger? is….

photo by Samara Pearlstein

Always A Tiger.

Eh. I am less than impressed.

I should start by saying that I loved the Who’s Your Tiger? campaign. It was full of excitement! And thrills! And really awesome things! Who among us did not shout the phrase at fellow Tigers fans, over and over again, until we had received a satisfactory answer? It was punchy, and it was catchy without being overly obnoxious.

(and I know some wet sock is going to pipe up and say that they found it wicked obnoxious, but in a relative sense [April in the D] it was in fact fairly innocuous)

It connected fans and players, by making the slogan about BOTH, not one or the other. Who’s YOUR Tiger? It was a question ABOUT the players, addressed TO the fans; it asked the fan to pick a favorite player and claim him for their very own. This is not just an ad about Chad Durbin, it’s an ad about MY TIGER. Not that they ever made a Chad Durbin ad, but if I said to a Tigers fan, “Chad Durbin is MY Tiger!” they would immediately understand what I was saying and where it was coming from.

It was, as a team slogan, almost infinitely flexible, in that it could be applied to any Tigers player, or minor leaguer, or coach, or whatever. Who’s Your Tiger? Dave Dombrowski is my Tiger! Carlos Guillen’s surgically repaired knee is my Tiger! PAWS IS MY TIGER! When new Tigers joined the roster, via call-up or trade, the slogan could be immediately applied to them. It was wonderfully update-able and was versatile enough to encompass Tigers of both the present and the past, semantically if not in the form of actual TV ads.

Always A Tiger is not, in and of itself, a terrible slogan. It’s nostalgic, and looks to the history of a team that has more history than lots of current Major League teams. It puts emphasis on players who will always be associated with the franchise (never a bad thing) and it recalls the glory days of the team and those who wore the Olde English D (an especially good thing in the wake of the cringe-inducing ’08 season).

But it pales in comparison to Who’s Your Tiger. It’s pleasant enough, but it lacks punch, and if I was a bettin’ cat I would be willing to bet that it will never develop the near-viral memeness of Who’s Your Tiger.

Who’s Your Tiger was essentially a call for fan participation; Always A Tiger is a completely passive slogan. Are you going to yell Always A Tiger! at your Tigers fan friends? Do you feel any particular need to interact with the slogan at all? You probably don’t, because it’s not interactive. Who’s Your Tiger was.

Who’s Your Tiger was about the team NOW, in whatever form it was taking at the time; Always A Tiger is about past Tigers almost exclusively and attempts to drum up enthusiasm for the franchise without addressing the current roster in any meaningful way. How many of the current cats will ‘always’ be Tigers? Granderson and Verlander, hopefully; Inge, although I know a lot of you folks would rather get rid of him. Bondo? Maybe? There’s not a whole lot of continuity in MLB these days, and many of the current feline fan favorites had firmly established histories with other teams before coming to Detroit.

Who’s Your Tiger worked equally well for the dude in the Sheff’s Chef hat and the squealing Magglio fangirl and the vaguely bewildered but stubbornly loyal Jeff Larish fan. Always A Tiger has little to say to any of those people. Always A Tiger works for the couple who insist on wearing Hank Greenberg jerseys to the park no matter who’s on the team, but Who’s Your Tiger worked for those folks too.

It’s not that I think the team should ignore longtime, hardcore, SABRtoothed history-buff fans in favor of the ~*~but Curtis is so dreamy~*~ crowd. It’s not even that I think you have to BE a longtime, hardcore, SABRtooth to appreciate Always A Tiger, or that I think hardcore SABRtooths can’t or shouldn’t at the same time be people who happily objectify the hell out of ballplayers in tight pants.

But Who’s Your Tiger? was such a wonderful slogan in part because it was stupid and silly and fun to say, and in part because it had broad appeal and reached out to ANYONE who was a fan OF ANY TIGERS PLAYER, EVER. Always A Tiger looks at that level of inclusiveness and falls flat on its textual little face.

Who’s Your Tiger gained its near-viral status because of all these things. It appealed to everyone, so everyone was reached by it. It invited participation, so everyone paid attention to it and thought about who THEIR Tiger was. It was dynamic, pithy and fun, so it made a great statement to yell at people, and as dumb as it sounds, I really think it DID get people excited about Tigers baseball.

Always A Tiger lacks all that. It’s a fine, inoffensive slogan, like so many MLB slogans. But in a time when the team will probably need to actively work to regain the enthusiasm of its reeling fan base, I just don’t think it’s a good choice.

Something we can all agree on, though: April in the D needs to DIE IN A FIRE.

18 responses to “And the replacement slogan for Who's Your Tiger? is….

  1. Well written and well argued. And that last line is priceless.

  2. Actually, I think the new slogan is a desperate attempt to plead with us fans to remain Tigers, even though the team has no intention whatsoever of signing a closer for 2009.

  3. Don’t give up the hope… we have plenty of time for Big D to sign a closer yet. *crossed paws*
    As long as they don’t actually run April in the D this April I won’t loose my sanity.

  4. ‘Who’s your Tiger’ always, to me, sounded like something people say to each other in bed, which made it not effective in helping me connect to the team as a fan.
    So I won’t miss that so much. What I will miss is adapting “April in the D” for the rest of the season–Maypril in the D, etc.

  5. Follow that link, and it leads you to this sentence, which I found to be rather interesting:
    “It means that through the years, the Tigers have had the great Hall-of-Fame players, provided the great memories of your childhood, the bonding moments with your family & friends and the celebratory moments that have defined this city.”
    As if we had all just taken a pill and magically forgot the ’94-’05 seasons…. You know the ones… An average of 66 wins over 12 years. Yes, all those great Hall-of-Fame players like Chris Gomez, Felipe Lira, Andujar Cedeno, Bob Hamelin, Geronimo Berroa, Karim Garcia, Dave Mlicki, Wendell Magee, Jr., George Lombard, Warren Morris, Alex Sanchez, and Nook Logan … Good times.

  6. As I quote:
    “April in the D needs to DIE IN A FIRE.”
    It would make a catchy song for the WRIF April in the D song contest.

  7. The slowing should be “GOIN TO WORK” which yes, was the Pistons slogan when they won the championship in 2004…but guess what it worked! And also the Tigers are going to need to go to work…
    “Always a Tiger” is kind of a sigh of resignation. Once a Tiger, always a tiger. Sigh.

  8. This reminds me of a Freep article from a couple of years ago that attempted to analyze who were the “real,” best Tigers/Red Wings/Pistons/and (sigh) Lions of all-time.
    They took into account things like length of service with the team, whether they had spent their entire career with said team, whether they had been drafted by Detroit, and general fan “belovedness” (for my lack of better term – I can’t remember what they actually called it.) No surprise, people like Kaline and Tram were shoe-ins. I think Gibby, although he didn’t play his entire career in Detroit, and actually had his brightest baseball moment in L.A., still made the list.
    Apparently, it also helped to win the World Series, to make the list.
    Grandy, Verlander, and Inge should remember that. Inge is pretty close to almost “Always” being a Tiger for me. He’s been at the heart and soul of the team for the better part of a decade, now. And unless he has a Gibby 1988 World Series moment sometime in the future, I’m guessing his baseball career is pretty much going to always be equated with Detroit. Perhaps, if he plays like mad this year, he might even get a chance to play his entire career here.

  9. Samara Pearlstein

    David, you know it is truth, though. ;)
    Jen, that is (sigh) a possibility…
    Paul, I am pretty sure that April in the D is in fact going full steam ahead. FSND is a BAD STATION.
    Chris, IIRC someone actually asked Brandon Inge that very question once in an interview (i.e. ‘Have you ever said ‘Who’s your Tiger?!’ in bed?). If you ask me, that just makes it EVEN BETTER. :D
    Jeff, I know, right? NEIFI PEREZ– ALWAYS A TIGER IN OUR HEARTS.
    Gilbekat, if only we could be sure they would run it…
    Allthewine, YES, a sigh of resignation! That’s exactly it. It has no punch at ALL.
    Heitk1le, you know me, you know that I have no qualms whatsoever about equating Brandon Inge with Forever Tigerness. :P But can you imagine an Always A Tiger ad with Brandon Inge? It would be laughed off the air. SIGH.

  10. I will miss Who’s Your Tiger. I loooooved yelling “TODD JONES!” at the TV whenever the ad came on, regardless of who it was featuring. (Actually, I think when it started Mike Maroth was still with the team and thus held the position of #1 current Tiger. Wow, is Who’s Your Tiger that old???) And I heartily agree about April in the D. ARGH.

  11. Samara Pearlstein

    Mike Maroth! Awwwww. See, Who’s Your Tiger had staying power! I am going to miss the heck outta it.

  12. ivantopumpyouup

    Always a Tiger kind of has me missing Who’s Your Tiger. :P

  13. ivantopumpyouup

    And you know what makes that April in the D crap even more ridiculous? The band in the ad isn’t even singing the song. Some other guy wrote the song and then FSN or whoever hired a band to act like they were singing the song for the music video.
    LAME.

  14. Samara Pearlstein

    Let’s face it, every time April in the D is aired, Roger Clemens eats a live kitten.

  15. Good piece.
    As for “who’s MY Tiger” or “Always A Tiger” for me will forever be Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, Sparky Anderson and… Dick Tracewski. One of the greatest moments of my life was meeting them waaaay back in 1990(!) when I was a bat boy for Spring Training at Baseball City (where the Royals trained… do they still use those facilities?) Sparky Anderson and Dick Tracewski sat with me in the dugout and talked for a good 20 minutes about Tiger baseball and the history they had been part of (Dick reminisced a bit about the ’68 team). Then shaking Alan Trammell’s hand in the clubhouse after the game was a moment that was larger than life. Meeting Travis Fryman and a few others was pretty cool too, but as far as players are concerned, Tram and Whit will always be MY TIGERS. :)
    As for the modern day Tigs, I think Grandy has become my man. Class act, on and off the field. And you’ve got to love an articulate athlete.

  16. Sorry I’m coming in anonymous, but you can call me Chi-town Tiger. See, I like “Always a Tiger”, but maybe that’s because I actually miss the D. Yes, it’s true, I’m trying to RETURN to Detroit. Crazy huh? To me, it says that if you were a fan, a true fan, you’re always a Tiger. Same with the players. Al Kaline, Alan Trammel, Kirk Gibson, ect. No matter what sidelines and crappy uniform they wear now (i.e Cubs and Diamondbacks) they will Always be Tigers. Much like myself. I’m sick of people asking me if I’m a Cubs or Sox fan. I will now answer I am and will be ALWAYS A TIGER.

  17. Samara Pearlstein

    h20polopunk, Granderson is one of those guys that you fervently HOPE will Always be a Tiger, but you KNOW you can say that he’s Your Tiger. grumble grumble slogan etc.
    Tim, the answer is to wear a Tigers hat at all times, clearly! And then if someone questions your fanship you can just point at the hat, go cross-eyed, say, “Ozzie Guillen killed my favorite pet canary and fed her to Bobby Jenks,” and then walk away secure in the knowledge that they will not be making THAT mistake again.

  18. The “Always A Tiger” is a GREAT slogan. For those of us who have lived and died with the Tigers for generations, it is perfect. My Mother attended the 1935 World Series and is buried in a vault with an “old English D” on the cover and who has daugters and a granddaughter who wear the “old English D’ proudly, it is perect. Nice job. I am “Always A Tiger”.

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